Marines: July 13, 2003


: The U.S. Marine Corps has been busy during the last year, so busy that they have not got much training done. Since late 2002, 80 percent of Marine infantry battalions, all of their tank, light armored vehicle and amphibious assault vehicle battalions, all of the Harrier squadrons and 70 percent of the Hornet squadrons have been stationed in Iraq or Okinawa. Some training is possible in Okinawa, but those units mainly treat the island as a base for possible deployment to Korea, or the Persian Gulf. Commanders are eager to get some of those troops back to U.S. bases this year so training can be resumed. While combat experience in Iraq was useful, that only lasted a few weeks. Now the Marines are doing peacekeeping, which means their combat skills are starting to fade.